Many bereaved parents will tell you that after the initial shock of loss hits hard, a blessed numbness falls over a heart.
It happened to me.
The pain was still there, of course, but a fog descended that allowed me to maintain some distance between what I was feeling deep down and what I had to do in order to get through the decisions and days that follow death.
Nighttime was still hard because when the house went dark and quiet, all the emotion I’d managed to push away in the daylight came flooding back. I spent months falling into fitful sleep with tears on my pillow.
And then the fog lifted.
I’m not sure how long it was that I sobbed uncontrollably for some portion of every day and some days all day long.
A whiff of fresh air reminded me Dominic no longer drew breath into his lungs. A random sound upstairs or outside jolted my heart into hoping maybe, just maybe, he was coming home. Everywhere my eyes landed held a memory that screamed, “He was here! Where is he now?”
I felt everything. All the time. No respite.
It was exhausting.
But at some point-maybe in the middle or toward the end of the second year-a blanket of profound emotional silence wrapped itself around my heart and I could not feel a thing.
Not one single thing.
I could conjure up appropriate facial expressions so those around me didn’t have a clue. I could remember what I was supposed to feel. I could almost-almost-touch a spot deep inside that used to feel. But if there had been a meter on my heart it would have displayed a flat line.
This was more frightening than the prospect of living with overwhelming sorrow and pain for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to hurt like that forever but I didn’t want to give up feeling love and happiness and excitement and awe either.
I don’t really know how long that lasted.
Maybe most of a year, I think.
And then one day I realized some color had crept back into my daily life.
I was beginning to look forward just a bit to a date on the calendar. A smile crossed my lips without effort in response to a joke. Sadness once again took up residence in my heart next to the place Dominic always lived. But joy eased its way in around the edges.
I’ve thought long and hard about that season of “un-feeling”.
Why did my heart shut down? Why the long silence when no emotion pierced my soul?
I think it was necessary.
I think a body and mind and heart can’t operate for too long at warp speed. I think that just like fainting is a response to the brain needing oxygen, numbness is a response to the soul’s need for respite and time to heal.
So if you are in the season of numb, you’re neither crazy nor alone.
It, too, will pass.
Feeling will find its way once again to your heart. Pain, yes, but also joy.
When you are ready. ❤